If you’re shopping for and comparing wood pergola kits, this pergola post information will come in handy since post length and pergola height is one of the important decisions you’ll make! What are the important factors when considering pergola posts? The length of the post and how you’re planning to install the posts are top factors to review when making your pergola installation plan to ensure structural integrity of the pergola structure. Since the posts are the legs for your pergola, it’s important to review size and installation method for your wood pergola posts to ensure that your pergola is level and well anchored.
Other factors to review that can help make your outdoor pergola perfect for your space include pergola wood type and pergola dimensions. To make to most out of your outdoor area, take a minute and see what options work for your specific needs. Will the best choice be a freestanding structure or one that is attached to a wall? If you’re not quite sure, take a few rough measurements and then you can compare pergola styles. Once you’ve determined the general style you’d like, you can choose your desired post length and how you’ll install your pergola.
Pergola Post Information: Pergola Post Length
For our full size wood pergola kit styles, we offer posts with standard lengths of 8 feet, 10 feet and 12 feet. These styles include Big Kahuna, Sombrero, Melbourne, and Fedora pergola kits. When trying to decide the length of pergola posts needed for your wood pergola kit, there are a few things to consider.
- Desired height above ground. The height to the bottom of the beam (low point of the roof structure) is: Big Kahuna, Sombrero and Melbourne: 7 inches less than the length of the post that is above ground level, for example it would be 7 feet 5 inches for an 8-foot post (7’6″ if using post mounting hardware) or 9 feet 5 inches for a 10-foot post (9’6″ if using post mounting hardware); Fedora: 14 inches less than the length of the post that is above ground level, for example it would be 8’10” for a 10′ post (8’11” if using post mounting hardware);
- Post installation method, whether you are installing either buried in a concrete footer, or installed on top of a concrete footer or existing concrete slab; and
- If installing buried in a concrete footer, then you will need to add the length of the post below the ground to the desired height of the posts.
How Tall Do you Want Your Pergola?
It’s a matter of choice, but you probably don’t want to make the pergola too tall. For the Big Kahuna, Sombrero, and Melbourne, 8 or 10-foot posts suit most situations unless you’re installing your posts more than 2′ in the ground.
For the Fedora, we recommend 10′ posts on a slab or footer and 12′ posts (or longer) if going in the ground. Smaller kits generally look better with a shorter post. But, keep in mind things like ceiling fans or other accessories, head room for tall people, standing up in a hot tub or dancing on tables!
To determine the length below ground, we recommend at least 2 feet or more depending upon the frost line and building codes in your area. Do you live in a northern state where the ground is frozen for certain months out of the year, or a southern state where the ground does not freeze? If you live where the ground freezes you will want to be sure that you set your posts or footings deeper than the frost line. This will ensure that frost heave will not pop your pergola out of the ground like a cork. The correct depth can be determined by checking with your local building code department or online resource. In warmer climates you may be able to use 10′ posts, which would be buried 2′ in the ground, and colder climates will most likely use 12′ posts which would be buried 3-4′ in the ground.
Pergola Post Installation
Mounted on Concrete Footer or Existing Slab
The easiest method of installation is to dig footings to the correct depth (below the frost line in your area) and use post mounting hardware to attach the posts to the concrete footings or existing concrete slab as follows: Order the 8 foot or 10 foot post option and add the post attachment hardware to your order.
This will connect the pergola posts to the footings or slab, and also hold the bottom of the post up 1″ from the concrete surface to keep the bottom of the posts out of water that may accumulate on the patio.
Here’s a picture of the post base that would be provided with our Big Kahuna, Sombrero, Melbourne, and Fedora pergolas:
Note: When you add your pergola kit to the cart, if you selected Post Will Be Going “On concrete slab or footer (10′ posts with mounting hardware)” or “On concrete slab or footer (8′ posts with mounting hardware)”, the hardware has already been added to your kit. If you made any other selection and you’d like to purchase mounting hardware, simply add that selection to your cart from the Accessories section. If you will be installing your pergola on a concrete patio or concrete footings choose Concrete Anchor. If you are installing on top of a wood deck (not recommended) choose Wood Lag.
Make sure if you will be setting the posts on top of footings, that the footings are dug below the frostline (if there is a frost line in your area) as pictured here:
In Ground (buried in concrete footer) Installation
If you will be sinking your posts into the ground (buried in a concrete footer) you have two different options on how to pour the concrete around the posts:
Option #1 – Not flared bottom: Works in warm climates where the ground does not freeze.
Option #2 – Flared bottom: For climates where the ground freezes. When the concrete is set below the frost line and flared on the sides this prevents the frozen ground that will be pushing on the sides of the concrete from popping it out of the ground. Also the use of concrete form tubes helps this because the smooth surface of the tube will not allow the ground to grab the concrete and pull it up. We also recommend if you are putting the pergola posts in ground, that you wrap the bottom part of the post that will be in contact with cement in a peel and stick roofing membrane. This can be purchased at your local hardware store.
If you follow these suggestions, you are sure to have a pergola that will stay put where it was intended to be for the life span of the lumber. Take a shortcut and you’re bound to have a pergola that is out of level. Frost heave can push posts out of the ground 3″ or more if not installed properly.
Here's a great video on how to pour concrete footings the correct way:
Questions about Pergola Post Information or other Pergola Questions? Contact Us!
Feel free to schedule a call with one of our pergola specialists to review your pergola post options. Check out more information and tips about pergolas on our FAQs, our Guide to Choosing a Pergola and our Pergola Styles Comparison. For more information that is specific to our timber frame pergola kits, contact us or reference that information here.